The back-to-school season is almost here, and it is time to start putting together your plan! The element of classroom community is key for a productive school year, and we’re bringing you some ideas on how to begin establishing this community within the first few weeks of the school year. Classroom art projects like those below are a great way to fold in new students or break the ice after a long summer break.
First things first. These Skintone Craft Sticks are perfect for a mini self-portrait and name cards. Not only is this a great first week of school activity, but I find it to be one of the best things to do right at the beginning of the first day. These craft sticks create a helpful link between each student’s name and their appearance, and—on a practical note—they are perfect to tote around to all outside of classroom activities during the first weeks of school.
I also like to use people-shaped craft sticks to lay the groundwork for a positive school year by discussing how our differences make us interesting as an individual and stronger as a group.
Create a Class Flag
Get all your students working together to design a classroom flag for the school year! Start with a white vinyl flag or just simple white cloth and divide it into the right number of sections (square or triangle) so that each student can have one. I like to leave space in the middle for a teacher design, i.e. “Mrs. Smith’s 4th Grade Class est. 2021”.
When it’s time for art, break out the markers and ask students to practice a design on paper before it’s their turn to add to the flag. Then just turn on some music or an audiobook while students pass the flag around and add their flair to the class mosaic. The best part? You’ll have a house banner for field days and class competitions.
Break the Ice
Do a unique craft that brings students together! An easy example would be to tape a set of rubbing plates (I like these simple, textured shapes) to the craft table and let students come in groups to do a crayon rubbing on each one. As the patterns are revealed on their papers, they’ll be delighted and naturally break the ice with the other students in their group.
I like this as a low-cost but exciting activity, and the rubbing plates can be used repeatedly! It never gets old to see students get excited as the shapes transfer onto their paper.
Talk about Big Goals
Create future self-portraits! These Multicultural People are perfect for creating self-portraits. I have a teacher friend that likes to put his own spin on it—have your students draw who they want to be when they grow up. Then, throughout the year, he uses each student’s aspirations in quiz and test problems. If one of the students changes what they want to be (a fun and inevitable reality!), they can re-do their person.
What art projects will you be working on the first week back to school?
Darby is the director of Business Development at Roylco, an American designer and manufacturer of high-quality products for childhood education and development. Outside of work, Darby likes to spend as much time as she can in nature and traveling to new places. If you would like to chat, you can reach her at Darby@roylcoinc.com.
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